Today, United Virtualities’ chief wordsmith (and CMO), Morgan Friedman sits down with Santiago Hernandez, a full-stack developer with a keen eye for Salesforce Commerce Cloud, who opens up about the good and the not so good aspects of the ecommerce platform. (… If videos are not for you, and you prefer the written word, we’ve got you covered. Check out the transcript of the interview below. Enjoy!)
Morgan Friedman: Hey everyone! It’s Morgan for the latest edition of the UV podcast, Recursive Business, here with Santiago Hernandez, one of our favorite developers here at UV… who fooled me because I thought he was in Argentina because he’s drinking mate like the Argentines do, but he’s really in Mexico drinking mate, pretending to be an Argentine! Nice to meet you!
Morgan Friedman: So, here’s what I wanted to talk about today. I’ve talked to a lot of developers at UV all about Salesforce Commerce Cloud and because we’re Salesforce Commerce Cloud chums to a large degree, we tend to really like it and everyone has lots of really great things to say about Salesforce Commerce Cloud. You, Santiago, are in a very special position because you know Salesforce Commerce Cloud very well and you’re really good at it, but you also have a lot of doubts about it so I think you’re very well positioned to talk about the good and the bad of Salesforce Commerce Cloud from your technical back-end eyes, and that’s the subject of our virtual coffee today. So let’s jump in. Let’s start with the good first before we get to the darker side. What are your favorite parts about developing in Salesforce Commerce Cloud?
Santiago Hernandez: So I think Salesforce Commerce Cloud is a good platform. I think it’s one of the best platforms. I have been working with Salesforce Commerce Cloud for two years, close to three years, in April, I think. And from the first day that I worked with Salesforce Commerce Cloud… I don’t like it, nothing. Because I think, many times to
do something simple you need to do something big because that is how it works – the platform, but… One of my favorite parts is the the part of the back-end because, I am a full stack developer but I consider myself that I like more the back-end because, when something works or has a functionality that you think, I like it more than, than, seeing a page that looks beautiful because, I like more how this works and how this part integrates and so I think that is a good thing.
The back-end part is perfect for doing a lot of things and also the part of making some custom features for example, is very easy to be able to change the parents of the site, the design. They have a lot of tools like Page Designer, which is easy to use. You will be able to do everything on your own, and including the design, the scheduled part and publish the page, and in the same way, I think that some things can be improved… but they have also the Business Manager part that is the administrative and marketing thing in Salesforce Commerce Cloud and I think it’s very good because you can control all the part of the products, the catalog management, the payment method, shipping methods, promotions coupons and all that related with the order, and it’s very easy to to use and learn about this.
You can extend some modules inside the Business Manager to be able to do some custom things like, I don’t know, if you want to add a custom attribute for a product or for the category, you can do it and this is very helpful for the client. Also you can track basically everything, like the orders, the traffic, the users, dialogue errors, and problems on the site – that is a good part. And also from the point of view like a user, you can consider that you always have security, because for example the payment section: when you try to buy a product, this is very very secure and also they use that transport layer security technology, that basically they put the information in several expectations using the server authentication and the classic incriptation, and this can guarantee safety and security for all that of the user. I think there are some things that are good about Salesforce Commerce Cloud.
MF: I like your point about security, and a lot of your other points were about the user interface on the back-end about what the Business Manager and clients can do. But I’m particularly curious about the technical side. Is there a technical feature – something on the back-end – that you think is really powerful and really good, but not enough people know, or people don’t talk about? Like, I always talk about how Salesforce Commerce Cloud lets you do A/B testing, but are there powerful things that you think should be more utilized or that you wish the clients were using more?
SH: Yes I think Salesforce Commerce Cloud can use many protocols for the security of the user or the authentication of the users and they help it a lot for transporting the data from from the user to the payment section, to the payment part, for example. And this guarantees a lot of safety and security for all, for all the users, for me, for example. This is very helpful because when you are developing, for example, an integration of the payment part, I don’t know like PayPal or Affirm or another payment gateway, they use a lot of security in that part for using the data. For example they encrypt all the information about the credit card, the CVV and all that part, so I think that part is very helpful for someone, the user, because at the end of the day, the most important thing on the ecommerce site is that payment section and for all the orders. So that is, I think, the most important thing that I can tell, this payment part.
MF: That makes sense. Now let’s go over to the dark side. What is the one thing that you like the least about developing in Salesforce Commerce Cloud?
SH: I don’t like a lot – all the user experience that they use. They have SFRA and I don’t like it from a user perspective, from a developer perspective, because I think they can do it better, or try to integrate a new template of them, so the user can have a better experience, because, for example, I don’t like a lot the mobile version…
MF: So the SFRA is basically a set of templates. So are you saying that you think that templates may be good technically, but you think it’s just not a good user experience.
SH: Yeah, it’s not a good user experience. I think they can do a better template or, like, developers, we can create a new one, and this can help for all the other clients…
MF: What I like about your observation is, so many high-end ecommerce sites use the SFRA template. You can tell, there’s a look to the Commerce Cloud sites. All the time I’m on different women’s clothing sites – that’s what I do for fun – and I’m like “I think this is Salesforce Commerce Cloud” and then I view source and I’m like “Yeah Demandware. Okay Commerce Cloud”. So I like your point that more people should not just use the template, but concrete their own designs.
SH: Yes I think they can they can do it a bit better because… also from the front-end developer, it’s something hard to try to structure this thing for the front-end part, because they can use new integrations and new technologies for the front-end part and this can help a lot for the for all the site and, yes, that template… I don’t like it.
MF: So you don’t like the user experience of the SFRA, but that’s also very subjective. You don’t like it, some people may like it. On the more technical side, is there anything about actually developing in it that you also don’t like?
SH: How they compile all the files. For example, for the front-end part I think you can do it…
MF: I don’t know about that. How do they compile the files?
SH: Yes they use a Webpack file, this is a technology. I think they can extend more of this with this Webpack compiler for all the files, because sometimes when you try to compile some files they compile all the files and this, from the developer perspective, it takes some time and I don’t like that part. I think they can do it better from the perspective of the developer. Also, I think they have some integrations that are very old, and sometimes don’t work with the new version of SFRA, so basically you need to change all the things for doing working together. And also, for example, I don’t know, when you try to merge two integrations from the same goal, I don’t know, in one project that I’ m in now, I’m integrating five payment methods and in one side, and this is very, very hard to merge all of them and work together, because you can have, I don’t know, you can have working fine PayPal but Amazon is not working correctly because they use the same files, and they are having some troubles and some bugs. And I think this is such a hard part to merge all of them and work together… but I think that is a good part because you have that challenge to do that, and start and create them and merge them, and I think this is a good challenge from a point of view, because, I don’t know, when you, when you have all of them working together you are very happy.
MF: When you do something hard, you get more excited once you complete it successfully.
SH: Yes, yes!
MF: Question: a little while ago when we started, you said that there are parts of Commerce Cloud that you think are too complex. They take some simple things and they make them very complex. What’s an example of something that Salesforce Commerce Cloud makes very complex that you think should be simple?
SH: I think for example when you try to do some iterations on the site… In one project I had for example, I needed to show some products that are offline and show them in a page. When you try to do it via code, this can be hard for the performance, because basically you are doing a lot of iterations and that site can be slow. This is a very not good part because the performance is down and something like that. But you can use some, some other features or some other tools inside Salesforce Commerce Cloud like Other Jobs because, for example, in that site I created a job because basically you are doing nothing in the site, you are working in the Business Manager.
MF: That makes sense. And our time is about up. But this is a really good intro to some of the strengths of Commerce Cloud and also some of the weaknesses. I think this is a great overview. Santiago, thank you for your time. Let’s do this again, and next time we’ll dive more specifically into one of these parts.
SH: Thanks to you, Morgan and gracias totales. See you, see you later! Thanks for the opportunity.
MF: See you later, bye!